President Duterte put the whole island of Mindanao under martial law as of 10 pm of May 23, following violent clashes between government troops and members of the Maute group in Marawi.
The martial law declaration for the island lasts for 60 days, according to presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella.
“[Deputy Executive Sec. Menardo] Guevarra has clarified that this is possible on the grounds of existence of rebellion because of what is happening in Mindanao based on Article 7, Section 18 of the Constitution. This is good for 60 days,” said Abella.
The development also prompted Mr. Duterte to cut short his four-day official trip to Russia before he had embarked on any of the activities on his schedule.
His meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will be postponed, but a phone call before Mr. Duterte and Putin is being planned, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the whole island of Mindanao was put under martial law even if the clashes were only in Marawi because there are also problems in other parts of the island.
Lorenzana pointed out that Mr. Duterte had already warned that he could be pushed to declare martial law if the situation in Mindanao deteriorates, and that he would use it to solve all of its problems.
Gov’t troops hurt
Three government troops (2 soldiers and a police) were killed while 12 others were wounded in clashes with members of the IS-linked Abu Sayyaf and the Maute terror groups in Marawi City that started on Tuesday afternoon.
In a televised press briefing from Russia, Defense Secretary Lorenzana said they will send more troops from Manila and Zamboanga to Marawi City on Wednesday.
He also confirmed circulating reports of burned facilities St. Mary’s Church, Ninoy Aquino School, Dansalan College and Marawi City Jail.